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50 year patronage . . . Alec Bartrop and Beryl Weir loved their time involved with the Waimate Theatre Company. PHOTO: GEORGE CLARK

by George Clark

The Waimate Theatre Company would have celebrated its 50th show this year, if not for Covid-19.

Theatre company president Vanessa Morgan said the 2020 show had had to be postponed due to the lockdown, but the company planned to celebrate its jubilee in October with past and present members.

“We would have been well into dress rehearsals by now but such is life,” she said.

“I am hoping to reschedule and get as many past and present members involved.”

The show was to be called 50 Years of Music and Mayhem featuring a “bunch of little bits from shows we had done over the years”.

“The intention was to entertain people with humour and song, admittedly with not a lot of thinking involved, but a lot of work.

“We wanted people to appear out of the woodwork to participate, as 50 years is a long time, it is special.”

The company’s meeting room houses posters of cast members and characters from 1970 to 2019.

Patrons Alec Bartrop and Beryl Weir said they often reminisced about their time taking part.

Mrs Weir was involved in the Operatic Society as a singer from day one.

“It was marvellous fun,” she said.

“It has to be if you are involved with something for 50-odd years.

“We had a very strong choral society but ran out of tenors, so the musical bigwigs put their heads together and decided they might need a new format, which is when they thought up the Operatic.”

It started off with a hiss and a roar.

Their first show was a shortened version of Trial by Jury at the Waimate High School hall.

The society, combined with the Waimate Drama Club in 1985 to become the Waimate Theatre Company.

Mr Bartrop thought the transition from drama club to operatic society was mostly perfect.

“A lot of us could not sing, tone deaf you could say. Many people that made the society great have passed on now,” he said.

“They would have been very happy to see it reach 50 years.”

Venues had varied from local theatre to event centres and even the new shearing venue at the A&P Showgrounds.

Stage builders were challenged to provide good sized staging for all the shows.

Mr Bartrop vividly recalled moments of joy, forgetting lines and laughter.

“It has been a privilege and a thrill to be involved for so long.

“There is a lot of talent in Waimate. You just need to find it.”